March 3 – 4 is National Day of Unplugging (NDU) – a day where people are encouraged to take a day off from using digital devices and, instead, enjoy the very moments that we spend our time tweeting and instagramming about.
At a time when we are inundated with technology, NDU gives us an opportunity to enjoy a little digital detox for 24-hours.
The Impact of Technology in Our Lives
There is no doubt that technology has powerful and positive effects in our lives. Information and communication are faster and more accessible to us than ever. However, there are some who would argue that our attachment to our smartphones, tablets and laptops has, in some ways, made us slaves to technology.
For instance, when was the last time you left your house without your cell phone? How many times a day do you find a reason to check email, send a text message, take a picture to post to Instagram, or “check in” at a location?
Children and Digital Devices
Do you remember when you got your first cell phone? Do your children own their own digital devices?
Gone are the days of stretching the phone cord as long as it would go without ripping the phone off of the wall – all so that you could have a little privacy. Kids today don’t have to worry about mom or dad picking up the line and telling them to get off the phone…or accidentally dialing someone without realizing that the phone was in use.
Times have changed.
The kids of today are digital natives, and in a world where children are “growing up digital,” it is important for parents to model healthy digital behaviors. This means setting limits for yourself (and for your kids).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends treating media as you would any other environment in your child’s life. Know who your children’s friends are – both online and off. Familiarize yourself with the various platforms, software and mobile apps that your kids are using. Know where they are spending their time on the Internet.
Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, Media and Young Minds, stated:
Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep. What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ [source]
24 Things to Do With 24 Hours of Tech-Free Time
What did we do before cell phones and other digital devices? Here are 24 things you can do with your 24 hours of tech-free time:
#1 – Volunteer.
It doesn’t cost you anything, and it’s a great way to engage with other members of your community and give back in a huge way. Learn more about local causes, and make a difference in someone’s life. Wake County, NC residents and businesses can visit ActivateGood.org to learn more and volunteer with a local cause.
#2 – Exercise.
Run, jump, play. Whatever you do, get your body moving! You’ll feel a lot better after you do. Check out these other ways to be active.
#3 – Spend time with loved ones.
Take a trip out to visit your grandmother. Go shopping with your mom. Spend time with your father. Make some face-to-face time for the people who matter.
#4 – Learn a new skill.
It’s a no-brainer that learning a new skill can help prevent memory loss. Train your brain by challenging yourself to try something you’ve never tried before- whether it’s quilting or learning a new language.
#5 – Travel.
Visit a neighboring town. Take a day trip to somewhere new. You don’t have to travel across the globe to discover something new. Get out, and find new and exciting things to do right in your own backyard.
#6 – Journal.
You don’t have to be an acclaimed author to journal. Taking a pen to paper can evoke a sense of mindfulness as well as boost your memory and comprehension. Journaling may also help improve your communication skills and spark a hidden creativity that you never knew you had. So, get out that pen and paper! Whether you jot down notes about what you ate that day or reflect on larger issues – all you have to do is start.
#7 – Visit a museum.
Research conducted by Harris shows that people are happier when they spend money on experiences versus material purchases. Experiences, like visiting a local museum, can be meaningful – plus you’re almost guaranteed to learn something new! Check out any of these museums, located throughout Wake County, NC.
#8 – Host a dinner party.
Have a night in with friends and/or family by hosting a dinner party. Turn it into a potluck-style dinner, order food delivered, or plan a huge spread. Greatist has some great tips for hosting a stress-free dinner party.
#9 – Meet up with friends for a board game night.
Throw it back by hosting a board game night with friends. Make some popcorn, and invite friends to bring their own snacks/drinks.
#10 – Try your hand at a new meal.
Not a cook? Here’s your chance to dust off those pots and pans that you never use. Already a seasoned chef? This is a great opportunity to try a brand new dish. You can find plenty of fresh ingredients at the WakeMed Farmers Market, which starts back up this May.
#11 – Go dancing.
Dancing has tons of physical and mental benefits ranging from improving your heart and lung function to increasing motor skills, muscle tone and strength and more!
#12 – Read a book.
When was the last time you sat down and read an actual book that wasn’t on a digital device? Put away that e-Reader, iPad or Kindle. Head out to the local library, and browse the stacks. Talk to a librarian, or reserve a library book online for pickup.
#13 – Do some spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning is a great way to get organized. It’s also a great opportunity to take those items that you don’t need and donate them to someone who could benefit. Consider giving your old items to the Salvation Army or to your local GCF Donation Center.
#14 – Write a letter to an old friend.
Remember the letter-writing days…before you got bogged down in emails and texting? Remember the excitement you used to have when you received a letter or card from someone in the mail? Why not write a short letter or card to an old friend? It’ll make their day and doesn’t cost you that much.
#15 – Walk the dog.
Take up some your tech-free time to walk the dog. Go for multiple walks, or visit a dog park. It’s great exercise for both you and your furry, four-legged friend.
#16 – Sleep a little longer.
Many of us bring our cell phones to bed, or we find ourselves watching television while in bed. Why not take that extra time to tune out and turn off the digital devices and rest? Believe it or not, technology affects your sleep in more ways than you know. Check out this article from Sleep.org for more reasons to shut it down before you turn in for the night.
#17 – Jump into an exercise class.
There are tons of different exercise classes out there, and you don’t necessarily have to be a member of a gym to jump into one. The YMCA offers a nice variety of free group fitness classes.
#18 – Scrapbook.
Before Instagram and Facebook walls, there was scrapbooking. Scrapbooking can be a fun way to preserve memories that you can look back on years later and cherish.
#19 – Plan a romantic date.
Dating someone? Married? Plan a special date night with that someone special. Need ideas? The Raleigh Moms Blog offers up some great Triangle date night restaurant recommendations.
#20 – Plan your next big travel date.
You don’t need the Internet to start planning your next big travel plans. Jot down ideas on paper of what you’d like to do, where you’d like to go, and what you’d like to see. Before you know it, you’ll have an outline handy for when you actually do research it online later.
#21 – Go see a play.
#22 – Visit a local nursing home.
Volunteering at or visiting a nursing home is beneficial for everyone involved. A simple visit can lift a resident’s spirits, provide extra 1:1 attention, and give staff members the extra help that they sometimes need.
#23 – Plant a garden.
Planting a garden is fairly easy, and it can be therapeutic. Besides this, growing your own fruits and veggies allows you to have more control over what you put into the soil, making it healthier to consume. Additionally, growing your own fruits and veggies can save you money at the supermarket.
#24 – Start an art project.
Get those creative juices flowing by starting an art project. From DIY halloween costumes to wall art and more – check out this awesome list of DIY art projects for adults.
The National Day of Unplugging is the brainchild of a company called Reboot. Founded in 2002, and inspired by Jewish cultures, Reboot produces creative projects that inspire the community. Since their inception, they have produced events exhibitions, recordings, books, films, DIY activity toolkits, and apps. Visit www.NationalDayOfUnplugging.com to learn more.